Jazz Professional               




Watch this page for the coming review of Coda Finale 2002,
now available.
Take this opportunity to read all about
What's New
in this outstanding music software programme


The latest update of Codaís Finale 2001, also called the Millenium Edition is packed with new features. One that will gladden many hearts is in Simple Entry óyou can now hear the notes as they are entered.

The very good news is that it is now possible to import Encore files. Finale 2001 does it in seconds, and reproduces the files exactly. Not only that, but it plays them back exactly as they were in Encore, note lengths, swing and all. As Encoreís swing and playback options were always the best of the lot this is indeed a bonus for Finale users. Finale even plays back the imported chord symbols.  It goes without saying that the imported score can be edited in the usual way and saved as a Finale file.

Finale scores can now be saved in HTM form and posted on to the Internet. They can be read offline for checking and the reproduction is exact. The scores can be played back, transposed and printed. Necessary is a free download of the Finale MusicViewer, a web browser plug-in that takes about four minutes to download from the Coda site. Scores can be published and distributed worldwide through a connection with Net4Music.

Files of completed scores are also up to 80% smalleróhelping the Internet publishing upload time considerably. I tried out some long scores on the Web and they loaded instantly.

This worked fine for me on IE5 but I couldnít get anything on to Netscape, although the plugin seemed to have loaded in there properly.

Not only can one publish Finale scores in this way, but also the imported Encore scores. When publishing as an HTM file there are many security options available, one of which is the ability to block downloading and printing of the score. If you have a website, and wish to send a score to someone it is now possible to put the score on the site with a coded name, and post the name via e-mail to the recipient for downloading.

Coming soon will be a free web service called Finale Showcase for the posting of Finale and Finale Notepad files on the Internet.

Something for both amateur and professional is the MicNotator. With this you can play a single-line melody on a wind instrument, acoustic piano or guitar into a microphone. As you play, Finale simultaneously notates what you are playing on to the monitor.

There is a Smart Music Studio for vocalists, woodwinds and brass that is a sort of do-it-yourself Music Minus One. There are over 5,000 accompaniments to choose from, from full orchestra to jazz groups. Start the playback and play along with it. Vocalists can transpose the playback into a key to suit their range. Difficult passages can be slowed down and practised in a loop, gradually speeding up until they have been mastered. If you slow down anywhere in a piece the playback will follow you! It will even hold a note until you are ready. Isnít that scary?

The introductory video is greatly improved, no airplane noises this time, and Tom Johnson is in great form. I couldnít get the last three tuition lessons on the video, but the AVI files are all on the CD and it was possible to view them directly from there. The video makes using Finale much easier.

The new menu item Plug-ins contains many shortcuts to items that can often be problematic. For instance: as I necessarily have a considerable number of music software programmes for review I can very quickly forget the various commands. This time I was wrestling, as usual, with the quite remarkable rigmarole one has to go through in order to enter a repeat ending into a Finale score, when I noticed that there is now a plug-in for that. It was a simple matter of point-and-click to achieve my goal. Whoever wrote the plug-in deserves a medal. There are many more plug-ins to make life easier.

As in the previous version, Finale now has a Windows interface, with all of the necessary icons on the toolbar. The task of searching and finding things like the Mass Mover is one click away.

There is a set-up wizard to help you lay out a score and quite a few tasks have otherwise been simplified, including page layout: that one often caused headaches. Finale doesnít now insist that you use scroll view as the default, but that really is an advantage for moving quickly from page to page.

Included in the package is a free version of Midiscan, described as a programme containing fully featured scanning  technology. That may be so, but my efforts to scan a page of published sheet music into Finale and edit the result ended in failure. Iíve tried many such music-scanning OCR programmes with little success. No doubt they do work, otherwise the people producing them would not bother to do so. Iíve just had no luck with any of them. Usually, the time taken to correct them is better spent in simply copying the music manually into the scoring programme. The question also arises as to the purpose of scanning sheet music at all. Scanning a hand-written score would make more sense, but that is hardly likely to be made possible.

Chord symbols are easy to insert, and they play back, as always. I find that the inclusion of the guitar fret board diagrams as a default is puzzling. There are two little buttons to disable each time you enter a symbol, otherwise up come the diagrams above the symbol. The chord symbols playback on the chosen instrument up to the length of  a whole note. Tied-over whole notes only play back if you insert the chord symbols over each bar, and then the chord is hit again each time. I rummaged for ages in the enormous help manual without finding out how to do this properly. Long sustained chords are always useful for a background fill-in on playback, obviously. Still, my scores are written for humans to perform, and I use the playback facility only to check them.

Tap the tempo with your mouse! Finale is listening for tempo, says the advert.

Well, itís true. Entering music can be done using both hands, using Hyperscribe and a foot pedal to tap out the tempo. If you donít have a pedal you can choose a note on the midi keyboard, preferably in the lower register, and tap out the tempo with that, presumably with your nose. Or you could, at a pinch, tap with the left hand, and enter the music only with the right. Itís up to you. Now you can slow down for the tricky bits and type them in properly. This will also help teach you how to play exactly on the beat, but, of course, you know how to do that already.